WXXI AM News

Will #metoo movement empower victims of child sexual abuse?

Jan 24, 2018

Deb Rosen, exec. dir., Bivona Child Advocacy Center

Since the #metoo movement started several months ago, scores of women have accused powerful men of sexual harassment and assault.

When it comes to victims of child sexual abuse, only 10 percent disclose their story during their childhood.

Deb Rosen, executive director at Bivona Child Advocacy Center, says the #metoo movement may empower more children to come forward, but the stories may also trigger traumatic memories for others.

"Fundamentally, I think it is good for kids to see grownups coming forward and telling their truth and speaking up for what's right. But I think there are many layers of dynamics that prevent children from telling their truth."

Like adult survivors, children often fail to confront their abuser for fear of retribution, guilt, and shame.

Rosen said the sentencing hearing of convicted abuser Larry Nassar this week is a once in a generation experience.

Nearly 160 young women spoke at the hearing or had others read their statements about how the former U.S. Gymnastics Team physician sexually assaulted them.

"There's no question that children and watching and listening to this story,” said Rosen. “I know my children are. What they are seeing are young women speaking about things that happened to them and the powerful impacts of that."

In 2016, Bivona Child Advocacy Center evaluated 1,919 children. They included 1,588 victims of alleged abuse and 331 survivors of secondary abuse (children who witnessed abuse or lived in a household where abuse was alleged.) 

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Deb Rosen.